LOS ANGELES -- Maybe it wasn't that the Rockies' lineup is lost in the clouds, or everywhere away from Coors Field. Maybe it was Ted Lilly, who's undefeated in four starts since joining the Dodgers, that did in Colorado on Thursday in a 2-0 loss. Lilly went the distance, struck out 11, and allowed just two walks and two hits. From the first inning to the seventh, he retired 19 in a row. Or, maybe, it's that a Rockies team that's been shut out four times in its last nine games -- all on the road -- is truly scuffling. Either way, time is running out to fix the problem.
"It's a mixture of not very good hitting and good pitching," said Troy Tulowitzki, who had half the Rockies' hits. "When those two meet, it doesn't make for many runs. We've had some trouble, and we have to turn it around quick here. Otherwise, every game, we're just digging ourselves a deeper and deeper hole." The hole is at 11 games behind San Diego in the National League West, and six in the Wild Card, looking up at Philadelphia. Jorge De La Rosa deserved much better after a 104-pitch, seven-inning performance in which he worked in and out of trouble, three times with the help of an inning-ending double play. The left-hander's lone costly mistake was a changeup to Reed Johnson that went for a two-run homer. De La Rosa thought Johnson was sitting on the pitch, and Johnson said afterward he still wasn't sure what he hit. Johnson entered the game batting .371 off southpaws. De La Rosa said it was only "a little hard" to pitch from there with so few runs behind him. Manager Jim Tracy took a stronger stance. "Offensively, two hits. How are you going to win with two hits and no runs?" Tracy said. "It's that simple. I don't know what else to say. The job that De La Rosa did was terrific." A double two batters into the game made Dexter Fowler the Rockies' only baserunner until Tulowitzki singled up the middle with two out in the seventh. One batter earlier, Ryan Spilborghs had a single stolen from him by Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake, who dove to his left for the stop and the second out. Otherwise, Lilly was in total command. "He wasn't missing a corner," Spilborghs said. "That was probably the easiest nine innings I've ever caught at the Major League level, or any level," said 41-year-old Dodgers backstop Brad Ausmus, who is eighth on the all-time games-caught list. "There wasn't much involved for me. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. It was more draining going over the hitters before the game. It was almost like a day off." The frustration may have boiled over in the top of the eighth, when Miguel Olivo was ejected by plate umpire Laz Diaz for arguing a strike-three call, Olivo's third strikeout in as many at-bats. Lilly's 0-and-2 curveball appeared to be in the zone, but Olivo slammed his bat in anger, and was frustrated after the game. Todd Helton had started the inning with a walk. "Don't ask me that," Olivo said when questioned about any frustration with the team's overall play. "Go ask somebody else." Matt Reynolds made his Major League debut in the same inning, retiring the only two batters he faced, striking out one. The defense was a positive. Its three double plays for a second consecutive day gave the Rockies the most in the National League with 133. De La Rosa didn't need one in the sixth, his tightest jam of the night, when he retired Johnson on a groundout to third and the bases loaded. More impressive was that Dodgers began the inning by putting two in scoring position with a single and double. Tulowitzki made a pair of sparking plays on back-to-back batters in the second inning before making one of two late Rockies errors, neither of which were costly. Tulowitzki's first fine play went 1-6-3 and saw him range to his left for the second out. The next pulled him 70 feet in the other direction, with a leap on to the outfield grass in shallow left and then the throw to end the inning. "We play good defense, we pitched, we hit at home a little bit," Tulowitzki said. "We play really good at home, actually. If we can play well on the road, that's going to be relaying telling of our season, if we're going to make a run here."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.